Melbourne City’s Belgian recruit Ritchie de Laet has been in an around some of Europe’s – and indeed the world’s – biggest derby matches.
Manchester and the Second City Derby of Birmingham, just to name two.
On Saturday, he will be tasked with keeping things in order in the Melbourne Derby, against a star-studded Melbourne Victory, a world away from England and in indeed Europe.
By name, de Laet is a marquee, filling one of City’s two spots alongside captain Bruno Fornaroli.
The 29-year-old’s pedigree is nothing to be sneezed at, but has proven a lower-key addition than the likes of Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen, both snapped up by Victory.
De Laet faces the two 2018 World Cup scorers at Marvel Stadium come the weekend and will act as something of a second coach in order to keep the two men in check.
De Laet gave little away at his pregame media conference at the City Football Academy on Tuesday, but is expected to line up at either centre-back or right-back.
Either way, Aston Villa loanee de Laet insisted there will be no special treatment given to Victory’s big-name men.
“We’re excited for the season to start, not just because it’s a derby, but because it’s been a long preseason,” he said.
“We’ve got one week of preparation in front of us for Saturday and it’s go time.
“It’s just the coaching on the pitch, the week building up to this game. The gaffer has a plan and we’ll be training to get that plan as good as we can.
“On the pitch something could change and you have to adjust to it and maybe my experience could help some of the boys.
“There’s no special plans. We look at ourselves and our own strengths and we’ll go from there.
“We’re not going to sit back and try and see what they’re going to do.”
De Laet has so far had a taste of Australian football, featuring in City’s 2-1 FFA Cup quarter-final defeat against Western Sydney Wanderers some three weeks ago.
Saturday’s derby will be hist first league match in Australia, but so far, he has been impressed with what he has seen.
“It’s been good and quality. Teams we’ve played against have been good with good players,” de Laet added.
“The quality has been good as well and it was what I expected really, hard working and technical ability from players, so I’m looking forward to the challenge on Saturday and the season.”